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The Montreal Canadiens shocked the NHL world on Tuesday by firing Michel Therrien and replacing him with Claude Julien who had just been fired a week earlier by their rival, the Boston Bruins.
The move comes as a surprise as the Canadiens sit in first place of the Atlantic Division in the Eastern Conference with a 31-19-8 record. However, the team had been struggling of late, going 6-10-2 in their last 18 games.
Despite the recent struggles, Bob McKenzie of The Hockey Insider explains that the move is a surprise because all recent reports indicated that the Canadiens were not going to make a coaching change.
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“The Therrien/Julien [swap] is quite the surprise,” McKenzie wrote on Twitter. “All the messaging emanating out of Montreal for last days/weeks has been no chance of a coaching change … Fact it happened says either messaging was misleading/not genuine or there was a rather sudden reversal in attitude.”
One thing that could have led to a sudden change of heart was the unforeseen availability of Julien. The hiring of Julien reunites the veteran coach with the first NHL team he coached for parts of three seasons before he was fired in January, 2006.
Ironically, Julien was fired under similar circumstances as those that bring him back to Montreal. The 2005-06 Canadiens started the season strong, winning 12 of their first 16 games. However, the team later fell into a slump, losing 18 of 25 games when Julien was replaced.